By David Scott
When I look at a painting, I look for depth and narrative. What is the story here? Does the painting transcend its static medium to draw the viewer into its story? Does it come alive? Does it take us beyond the superficial to something much more profound?
At first, Drizzling Moments seems to capture a snapshot in time. A man and a woman are walking away from us on a path through a park dotted with trees. It is raining, an ethereal drizzle seemingly concentrated around the couple. In the foreground behind them is an empty bench they have ostensibly left as the sky began to descend on them in a silvery shower. The veil of droplets creates a mist in front of them obscuring the path ahead. Beyond the mist we can see the city skyline and a bridge arching high and to the left. The bridge extends to the edge of the painting and in the imagination beyond it to some unknown destination—or destiny.
We see the couple from behind. Immediately, they are mysterious. Who are they? Perhaps they are all of us. The man holds an umbrella over the woman, sheltering her from the elements. The umbrella, slightly off-centre, is nevertheless the focal point of the painting. Its segmented structure invokes the lotus-shaped dome of a temple, imbuing it with spiritual—or divine—significance. It suggests protection from a higher source. Whose umbrella is it? Its magenta hue matching the woman’s choli and pallu implies that it is hers; but the scene further implies that the umbrella is the man’s duty.
The magenta hues flow from the umbrella through the woman’s sari, its reflection in the stream of water on the path behind her, to the floral display on the tree beside the bench. In some symbolic schemes, magenta is considered to represent “universal love at its highest level.” This theme runs through the whole painting, connecting the couple to nature, the elements, and under the umbrella, to each other. Intriguingly, the man is dressed all in black, suggesting that women have a closer affinity with nature, but that men connect with nature through their own capacity to love.
As the painting draws us in and its narrative begins to unfold, our initial impression is the fragrance of the mist suffused with the nectar of the flowering tree. We feel the refreshing droplets of rain on our face and raise our gaze toward the source. It is a moment of connection with the elements, yet it holds within it the portent of an impending deluge.
The path is an allegory of life. The mist clouds the future, making it unknown, mysterious, an unpredictable adventure. The cityscape suggests they are heading toward shelter in a comfortable setting. But the bridge, foreshadowing futures to come, becomes an ominous reminder of our immortality, that the path of life leads in only one direction and is not eternal. It is a reminder that the moments drizzling away in droplets of time are precious, as are our connections with the natural world and to those we love.
The artist, Tejpal Singh, told me his inspiration for the painting came from an actual experience. He was sitting with the couple on the bench in Bear Creek Park when it began to rain and they decided to head for home. As they moved off down the path, the vision of them together spoke to him. The image of their “togetherness” became an indelible one that he was driven to recreate. “I am moved by nature, by romance, feelings of love,” Mr. Singh told me. “People take so much for granted. I want to create something that will make them stop and begin to appreciate it.”
In his book, A Judgement of Art, The Polish-American artist and art critic, Frederic Taubes, wrote, “In the end it is the degree of ambiguity in a painting and its nature that makes it work.” However, I would add that when the ambiguity—or mist—clears, it may suddenly solidify, revealing what was not initially seen in bold relief. All the disparate elements fuse into a grand vision of something profound. Stop for a moment and allow Drizzling Moments to enter your consciousness. You may notice that the painting comes alive and awakens within you a deeper appreciation of life, connection, and maybe even love.
You can view Drizzling Moments at Tejpal Singh’s gallery located at 9353 120th Street in Delta.